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Keynote: APIs Climbing the Ladder of Public Service: Challenges and Opportunities

DATE: Friday, July 21, 2017      TIME: 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM
LOCATION: USPTO, 1st floor, California Room

Thinking about a career in the public sector or elected office? You can learn about public sector law or policy from a public employee. At this session, you will get an added bonus -- the inside scoop from seasoned professionals on public appointments to boards and commissions and how best to support your favorite API candidates or be that API candidate. Learn how to foster that “fire-in-the-belly” and how to avoid landmines. How can you become a top leader? How do you handle complex issues of first impression to ensure fairness to constituency groups?

CLE accreditation pending. Click here to download CLE materials.


Julie Soo

Senior Staff Counsel, California Department of Insurance

Julie D. Soo is a senior staff counsel with the California Department of Insurance and is charged with prosecuting enforcement cases among her regulatory duties. She volunteers in a variety of community causes, including hate crimes projects, civil rights education, campaign work, and community health advocacy. Julie serves on the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women (SFCOSW) and is a past president. During her tenure, SFCOSW has made landmark strides in promoting gender equity principles in the workplace and addressing violence against women. She is active with the California Democratic Party Executive Board as a co-chair of the Platform Committee where she focuses on immigration, education, and health care issues. She served two terms as the chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus. Julie also sits on the Board of Trustees for Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. Along with other Asian American attorneys who sit on the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Civil Rights Committee, Julie tackles civil rights issues affecting Asian Americans and their communities. She co-founded NAPABA’s Rapid Response Media Team and directed that team with NAPABA’s executive directors from 2003 through 2009.

A fourth-generation San Franciscan, she is a Lowell High School alumna and holds an A.B. with a double major in Pure Mathematics and Statistics from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in Applied Mathematics from U.C. San Diego, and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. Prior to her law career, Julie worked in the actuarial sciences related to defined benefit pension plans and group life and disability insurance underwriting for the private sector. Julie is well-known for her past work as a journalist with AsianWeek, a pan-Asian national weekly based in San Francisco, where she covered breaking stories, provided legal and political commentary, and wrote about Asian American history and notable figures. She appeared on New California Media, a public television news roundtable for California’s ethnic news community, and served as a guest host for Voice of the Neighborhood, a political radio talk show targeted to the Bay Area Cantonese-speaking community. Julie has also served as a legislative aide and advisor to members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.


California State Treasurer

John Chiang

John Chiang was elected on Nov. 4, 2014, as California’s 33rd State Treasurer. As the state’s banker, he oversees trillions of dollars in annual transactions, manages a $75 billion investment portfolio, and is the nation’s largest issuer of municipal bonds.

In addition, he chairs financing authorities that help provide good-paying jobs, better schools, improved transportation, quality health care, more affordable housing and a cleaner environment. He handles those duties while sitting on the governing boards of the nation’s two largest public pension funds with combined assets exceeding $496 billion.  

Following 28 months as Treasurer, Chiang’s accomplishments include: 

  • Saving the state of California and its agencies $5.5 billion through refinancing of older bond debt (as of May 2017).
  • Cutting red tape and accessing billions in untapped federal resources for the state’s largest affordable housing program, which has led to an 80% increase in the number of homes built or rehabilitated since 2014.
  • Building a new online banking system so that 2,450 California public agencies can deposit, withdraw, and invest their money without relying on mid-20th century “fax and phone” methods.
  • Sponsoring a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown requiring greater accountability and transparency over how state and local governments borrow and spend taxpayer monies.
  • Sponsoring a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that imposes the nation’s most robust transparency requirements on fees paid by public pension funds to Wall Street private equity firms.

Upon assuming office, Chiang developed a financial blueprint for the state – sixteen ideas designed to help workers, businesses, and communities. His initiatives are detailed in “Building California’s Future Begins Today.” (Copies available @ www.treasurer.ca.gov)  A whole chapter of the plan focuses on new approaches to maintaining and building bridges, roads, schools and other critical public infrastructure. Fourteen of the 16 objectives in the original blueprint have either been accomplished, or are near completion.

Chiang has made transparency a top priority, believing that sharing information with taxpayers enables them to hold government officials accountable. In November 2015, he unveiled DebtWatch, a powerful new website that offers the public user-friendly access to three decades of data related to debt issued by state and local governments. DebtWatch was named “Best Application Serving the Public” at the 2016 California Technology Forum.

Prior to being elected Treasurer, Chiang served from 2007 through 2014 as State Controller. Chiang was first elected to the Board of Equalization in 1998 where he served two terms, including three years as chair. He began his career as a tax law specialist with the Internal Revenue Service and previously served as an attorney in the State Controller’s Office.

The son of immigrant parents, Chiang graduated with honors from the University of South Florida with a degree in finance. He received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Partner, Dhillon Law Group

Harmeet Dhillon

Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, the founder and senior partner of Dhillon Law Group Inc., is an experienced business trial lawyer, trusted boardroom advisor, and passionate advocate for individual, corporate and institutional clients across numerous industries and walks of life. From an early interest in constitutional litigation and positions at a nonprofit and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, to a decade of practice at prestigious international law firms, to founding litigation boutique Dhillon Law Group in 2006, Harmeet’s legal career has been marked by a passion for justice, a zeal for attacking legal challenges, and very active civic engagement.

Harmeet has been active in public policy and political causes since college, when she was an Editor in Chief of The Dartmouth Review, a conservative campus newspaper. Her first political campaign work was as the President of Dartmouth Students for Jack Kemp in the 1988 primary election. She was President of the Federalist Society of the University of Virginia Law School, and clerked for Hon. Paul V. Niemeyer in the 4th Circuit (author of the main dissent in the recent travel ban en banc ruling in that court). Harmeet has run for office twice, as the first Indian American major party nominee for State Assembly in California (2008) and State Senate (2012). She has been a California Republican Party delegate for over a decade, representing San Francisco. She was the chair of the San Francisco Republican Party for four years, served for three year as Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party (as the first woman to win that position), and currently is the RNC Committeewoman from California, representing California on the RNC Standing Rules Committee. At the 2016 Republican National Convention, Harmeet was an at-large delegate from California for Donald Trump, served as the California Committeewoman on the Convention Rules Committee, and opened the second day nominating floor session of the convention with a Sikh prayer sung in Punjabi and translated to English.

Harmeet has won numerous awards and recognition for her pro bono legal work on behalf of domestic violence survivors, religious discrimination plaintiffs, and asylum seekers fleeing religious or political persecution. Harmeet lives in San Francisco on the crooked block of Lombard Street, and northern Sonoma County with her husband, where they enjoy sailing and hiking along the ocean bluffs.

President, Freshdesk, Inc.

Dilawar Syed

Dilawar Syed.jpg

Dilawar is President at Freshdesk, heading up the cloud-based software company’s North America business overseeing enterprise sales, marketing, customer success and partnerships. Freshdesk has rapidly grown to more than 100,000 customers globally. Backed by Tiger Global, Accel Partners, Google Capital and Sequoia Capital, the company has raised $149 million in funding. Prior to joining Freshdesk, Dilawar was C.E.O at Yonja Media Group and launched digital brands in emerging markets. At Yahoo, Dilawar was responsible for the company’s platform and infrastructure strategy and business operations. In parallel to his entrepreneurial track, Dilawar has been a leader in civic efforts globally. As President Obama’s Commissioner for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, Dilawar led White House’s charge with AAPI entrepreneurs and small businesses across the U.S. advocating for immigration reform, and access to capital and federal government resources. Dilawar was on the front lines of the presidential campaigns as a surrogate in both Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s campaigns, stumping amongst immigrant communities in key states. He served on the Platform Committee of the DNC in 2016 and helped developed the most progressive platform in the party’s history. Following the 2016 election, Dilawar has continued his work to protect civil liberties leading the charge in the Tech community. Dilawar is co-founder of the AAPI Victory Fund which drives voter registration and mobilization across the Asian American community. He holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and earned Bachelors in Computer Science and Economics from the University of Texas at Austin.